Lotus have been talking up their extended wheelbase E21 for a while now, but after strength testing was not completed in time ahead of the Belgian GP, its debut came at Monza. The team brought two sets of parts and opted to give Raikkonen only a chance to try it out in the Friday sessions.
The Finn though believed there was little or no performance gain in it, underlined by the fact that he and Grosjean - who still ran the shorter version - set identical best laptimes during FP2.
While usual wheelbase extensions are done by adding a spacer in between the gearbox and the engine, Lotus opted for a simpler solution by modified only the front suspension. While the pick up points remained the same, the frontal suspension arms are now angled less backward, moving the wheel forward relative to the chassis. Depending on the source, this increases the wheelbase between 7 to 10cm.
Because this also moves the front wheel axle forward, the nose also needed to be elongated, as the front wing had to be moved forward as well to comply with the regulations. Interestingly, the longer nose also saw the camera pickup points move forward, move further than the extension of the nose itself.
The change was thought of to change the weight transfer characteristics of the car, but should also enable a small aerodynamic gain as the front wheels are now further ahead of the sidepods.
Even though Lotus is convinced of its advantages, the suspension was replaced again on the #7 car on Friday night, reverting Raikkonen to the regular version. Team principal Eric Boullier however confirmed that it will definitely be seen again in future races.